Hamilton, Madison, and Jay

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Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

Who are we? We're a married couple who has a passion for politics and current events. That's what this site is about. If you read us, you know what we stand for.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Operation Mosul commences; 1000 detained; Pelosi moving the goalposts?

This is a report from Reuters that talks about the operations currently underway in Mosul where the Iraqi military, reinforced by US troops, are taking back the last remaining province under AQI control, and AQI is losing badly:

Iraqi forces have detained more than 1,000 suspects in an offensive aimed at crushing al-Qaida in northern Iraq, the military commander of the operation said on Saturday.

Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki returned to Baghdad on Saturday after spending several days in the city of Mosul and surrounding Nineveh province to supervise the crackdown.

Many gunmen from Sunni Islamist al-Qaida have regrouped in Nineveh after being pushed out of other areas. The U.S. military said Mosul is al-Qaida's last major urban stronghold in Iraq.

Lieutenant-General Riyadh Jalal Tawfiq, head of the Iraqi-led offensive that began a week ago, said 1,068 suspects had been detained so far.

"This operation will last until we finish off all the terrorist remnants and outlaws," he said.

On Friday, Maliki said fighters who handed in their weapons within 10 days would be given an amnesty and unspecified cash rewards. His offer applies to gunmen who have not killed anyone.

Defense Ministry spokesman Major-General Mohammed al-Askari said scores of militants had already handed over their guns.

"We are committed to the amnesty and have reassured them there will be no judicial pursuit against them," he said, adding the government would soon make public the compensation available for different kinds of weapons handed in. ...

An influx of additional U.S. troops last year and a decision by Sunni Arab tribes to turn against al-Qaida has enabled U.S. and Iraqi forces to push the militants out of Baghdad and the western province of Anbar, their former strongholds.

The Iraqi military wants to repeat that success in Mosul.

Police and soldiers have raided some towns on the Syrian border, where many foreign al-Qaida fighters enter Iraq, as part of the operation and turned over some suspects to U.S. forces.

In late March, Maliki took control of a military operation against Shiite militias in the southern oil city of Basra. The operation started badly, as the Mehdi Army of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr put up fierce resistance.

Iraqi troops, backed by the U.S. military, gradually took control of Basra but fighting spread to Baghdad, drawing security forces into daily gun battles with militiamen claiming allegiance to Sadr.

A week-old truce deal between Sadr's parliamentary bloc and the ruling Shiite alliance has helped ease fighting, especially in capital's Shiite slum of Sadr City, a Mehdi Army bastion.

Residents said Sadr City was quiet on Saturday. Police said they were able to gain access to parts of the slum to start clearing streets of roadside bombs.

Things seem to be going well with the Mosul offensive. The Sadrists that seem to be working with AQI are giving up the ghost, and AQI is now trapped in Mosul. They'll either fight or they'll surrender. Either way this goes the offensive will continue until AQI is driven from Iraq, or destroyed outright there.

It should be noted that Nancy Pelosi has made a surprise visit to Iraq and that her view of the surge has changed significantly:

The prime minister returned to Baghdad from Mosul — where he has been overseeing the crackdown — to meet with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who made a surprise visit to Iraq on Saturday.

Pelosi, a top Democratic critic of the U.S.-led war in Iraq, expressed confidence that expected provincial elections will promote national reconciliation.

She welcomed Iraq's progress in passing a budget as well as oil legislation, and a bill paving the way for the provincial elections in the fall that are expected to more equitably redistribute power among local officials.

"We're assured the elections will happen here, they will be transparent, they will be inclusive and they will take Iraq closer to the reconciliation we all want it to have," said Pelosi. She also met with Iraq's parliament speaker Mahmoud al-Mashhadani, U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker and Gen. David Petraeus, the top American commander in Iraq.

Captain Ed notes that Paul Mirengoff over at PowerLine speculates that this change in her tune maybe a precursor to a change in their rhetoric. Namely that if there's success, the Democrats can declare Iraq won and push for a withdrawal of troops. While there me a bit of truth to the speculation, it'd still be foolish to withdraw troops now. Iraq is not entirely secure, and if AQI manages to slip through the noose, we still have work to do in Iraq. A withdrawal now might foment a destabilization with the influx of new fighters through either Syria or Iran. If that happens, and the situation deteriorates, we will have guaranteed defeat instead of victory.

Publius II